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post #1 of 14 Old 01-08-2011 Thread Starter
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Why fuel filters must be changed

I recently purchased my Catalina 380, and have been doing maintenance and a few minor upgrades. Tried to take her out for a sail last weekend, and the engine died in the channel. Had to be towed back to dock.

Today I went to troubleshoot the problem and found black sludge where clean diesel should be found. The first picture is the fuel I drained from the primary filter.

Since I could not see into the fuel separator at all, I removed it and cleaned it. The second picture is the plastic bowl in the bottom of the separator after I drained it, and the forth is after I cleaned it.

The third picture is a reference picture for what diesel SHOULD look like.

After all of this the engine started right up.
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1997 Catalina 380
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post #2 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Where I buy diesel, it's pink
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post #3 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Off road diesel has red dye to denote that it has not been "road taxed". I would guess the op bought some diesel at a filling station and not a marina that sells un-taxed fuel.

What year is that 380? That's pretty dirty for such a new boat...

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post #4 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Off road diesel has red dye to denote that it has not been "road taxed". I would guess the op bought some diesel at a filling station and not a marina that sells un-taxed fuel.
Just a little smiley at the comment stating "what diesel SHOULD look like".
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post #5 of 14 Old 01-09-2011 Thread Starter
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Yes, the diesel I showed is the undyed version.

My boat is a 1997 (see signature).

1997 Catalina 380
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post #6 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Sounds like a fuel treatment thread brewing.

Although it doesn't really look like bugs, it could be. If it happened fast, it is likely.
Sail Delmarva: Diesel and Biocides

If it were me, I would always design a diesel tank so that it could be cleaned. Treatments are good for maintenance, but a clean start is best, even after the bugs are dead.

(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")

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post #7 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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I get a little compulsive about adding a fuel stabilizer with injector cleaner and a biocide at each fill up, not just during winterization.

If you do have sludge at the bottom of the tank itself, that is worth getting cleaned out.
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post #8 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Looks like a very common diesel oil fungal contaminant - Cladosporium Resinae or "kerosene fungus" - a resin forming fungus that uses the diesel fuel as it nutrient source. That 'black' is most probably from a massive 'colony' growing on the walls of your tank and is periodically breaking loose from the walls as the dead fungal cells disintegrate and 'come apart'.

When you see such as this the only method to prevent further premature filter clogging is to clean the tank either by opening the inspections ports and SCRUB or add a 'tank cleaner' such as Starbrite enzymatic "Tank Cleaner", etc. ... or better, do both. If you dont, then expect to use a LOT of filters.
Such common fungal contaminations result in very 'soft and extrudable' particles that easily 'slime over' filter media which leads to premature blockage of the filter .... and until the blockage is 'total' the increasing pressure across the filter will cause this 'stuff' to extrude through the filters, and ultimately deposit in the hot sections of the exhaust system as a thick "coke".
Infected tank, constantly plugging filters, AND clogged, 'coked-up', exhaust system.
This is most probably an 'infection' - dont simply change the filters, clean the tank!



FWIW - why does 'non taxed/dyed' fuel from a marina ALWAYS cost much much much more than 'taxed' fuel from a truck-stop?

Last edited by RichH; 01-09-2011 at 02:24 PM.
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post #9 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
Looks like a very common diesel oil fungal contaminant - Cladosporium Resinae or "kerosene fungus" - a resin forming fungus that uses the diesel fuel as it nutrient source. That 'black' is most probably from a massive 'colony' growing on the walls of your tank and is periodically breaking loose from the walls as the dead fungal cells disintegrate and 'come apart'.

When you see such as this the only method to prevent further premature filter clogging is to clean the tank either by opening the inspections ports and SCRUB or add a 'tank cleaner' such as Starbrite enzymatic "Tank Cleaner", etc. ... or better, do both. If you dont, then expect to use a LOT of filters.
Such common fungal contaminations result in very 'soft and extrudable' particles that easily 'slime over' filter media which leads to premature blockage of the filter .... and until the blockage is 'total' the increasing pressure across the filter will cause this 'stuff' to extrude through the filters, and ultimately deposit in the hot sections of the exhaust system as a thick "coke".
Infected tank, constantly plugging filters, AND clogged, 'coked-up', exhaust system.
This is most probably an 'infection' - dont simply change the filters, clean the tank!



FWIW - why does 'non taxed/dyed' fuel from a marina ALWAYS cost much much much more than 'taxed' fuel from a truck-stop?
Unfortunately, none of the Startron products are bio-cides, capable of killing the bugs. They did market Star Brite Bio-Desiel, but it doesn't seem to be in the catalog anymore. Bio-bor, FPPF Kill-Em, and Raycor Bio-cide Diesel are proven products.

Rich is right though; a clean tank with NO water does not provide an environment where bugs can grow. Treat with a bio-cide, clean the tank, and then maintain with bio-cide + fuel treatment.

(when asked how he reached the starting holds on a difficult rock climbing problem that clearly favored taller climbers - he was perhaps 5'5")

"Well, I just climb up to them."

by Joe Brown, English rock climber




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post #10 of 14 Old 01-09-2011
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Not quite! The enzymes DISSOLVE the fungal colonies and puts the very small sized 'debris' into solution so that it can easily pass through common 'filters'.

Not quite! A LOT of the water in fuel is in an emulsified state (finely divided on a non-visible macromolecular scale held between the fuel molecules) plus molecular (sized) water due to chemical equilibrium ... and the biologicals can extract their needed 'water' directly from the partly water saturated fuel and dont need 'free' water in the bottom of the tank.
;-)
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